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'Tis the Season for Entertaining

'Tis the Season for Entertaining

The holiday season is upon us. Let the parties begin! From family gatherings, office celebrations and holiday entertaining, there is never a shortage of reasons to gather. And, certainly at every gathering food will be a star of the show. For a beautiful, but no-fuss option consider the charcuterie board! Pronounced “shahr-ku-tuh-ree,” this French term actually translates as “pork-butcher shop.”

Essentially a charcuterie board is a method of pairing a variety of meats (it doesn’t just need to be pork), with other sides such as fruits, cheeses, olives and bread. There should be a good balance between textures and flavors with items that contrast and compliment each other. The result is an elegant, easy to assemble, crowd pleaser with options for every palate. And, it’s the perfect option to let your creativity take the lead.

While traditional charcuterie boards include items such as Italian meats, spreads such as pate, rillete and mousse, fruits and cheese, the sky is truly the limit. The goal is to assemble something that will delight and perhaps even pleasantly surprise your guests. We’ve included some of our favorite combinations below!

Casual

Think Superbowl, a fun family game night or a simple gathering after caroling or looking at holiday lights.

Dips Ranch or hummus

Cheeses Cheddar, Monterey and Colby Jack cheese cubes

Meats Diced ham and slices of pepperoni

Fruits/Vegetables Baby dill pickles, baby carrots, berries and dried apricots

Crackers Ritz and pretzel crisps

Extras Roasted, salted nuts

 

Elegant ­­­

Beautifully simple, a charcuterie board can easily be dressed up for nicer formal gatherings.

Preserves/spreads Fig and apricot preserves, stone ground mustard, tapendade, pate and hummus

Cheeses A sharp (blue cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, sharp cheddar), a medium (Gruyere or Gouda) and a mild (goat chevre or Emmental) cheese

Meats Sopressata, Genoa or hard salami, prosciutto

Fruits/Vegetables Fresh or even grilled seasonal fruit and berries and pickled vegetables such as gherkins, olives, jalapenos or pepperoncinis

Crackers Baguette slices, gluten free crackers or simple crackers without a lot of added flavor to help accentuate the items on the board

Extras Dark chocolate, raw nuts, nut butter or hazelnut spread

 

Kid-Friendly

Have fun with this version! Select items you know your youngest guests will particularly enjoy.

Dips Ranch, hummus

Cheeses Cheddar, Havarti, Pepper Jack, Swiss

Meats Ham, turkey, salami, pepperoni

Vegetables Baby carrots, sliced cucumbers, grape tomatoes

Crackers Wheat Thins, Ritz, pita chips, peanut butter filled pretzels

Extras Olives, trail mix, apple slices, orange slices

We carry a variety of boards and beautiful serving utensils in store. We’d love to discuss ideas and show you some options. Also, watch for more details about a cooking demonstration from our favorite chef Elena (whose recipes are featured on our blog every month). She will be showing how to assemble a charcuterie board on November 21. Time and more details to come soon!  

Best Brown Butter Apple Pie

Best Brown Butter Apple Pie

If I could be any pie (kind of a weird statement) I would hands down be this one!! The crust is buttery, flaky, tender, and absolutely melts in your mouth. The apple and brown butter filling is sweet, rich, tangy, and the perfect texture with just the right amount of spice. The brown butter adds a depth of flavor that is worth the extra effort. Everyone will run for more. Trust me! Taste this pie and you will wish you were as amazing.
Made with Amore,
❤️ Elena and Jordan
Ultimate All-Butter Pie Crust
INGREDIENTS
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (I freeze the cut butter for 15 min on a baking sheet)
1 large egg (cold out of the fridge)
2 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
DIRECTIONS
  1. Place flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some blueberry-size clumps.
  2. Beat together egg, ice water, and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture and pulse just until incorporated, about 10 times more. Squeeze a small amount of dough to make sure it holds together. If dough is too dry, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap, forming each into 1 disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
Note: The crust will keep in the fridge for 2 days or freezes up to 1 month.
*adapted from Martha Stewart’s pie crust recipe
 
Brown Butter Apple Filling
INGREDIENTS
1/2 stick of butter (4 Tbs)
3 pounds Granny Smith apples (6 to 7), peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Optional spices if desired:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
DIRECTIONS
  1. Make the brown butter: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is golden brown and fragrant, about 8 minutes; let cool.
  2. Toss together apples and lemon juice in a large bowl. Combine flour, salt, granulated and brown sugars, and vanilla-bean seeds in another bowl, breaking up clumps and combining with a fork or fingers. Add browned butter to apples. Stir in flour mixture.
  3. Roll out 1 disk of dough to just under 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and fit into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Roll out remaining disk of dough to a 13-inch round. Rolled-out dough can be refrigerated up to 8 hours. (Be sure to let the 13-inch round sit at room temperature until pliable before topping pie, or it will break.) Place apples in pie shell, brush edges with water, and cover pie with top crust. Trim excess, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fold top edge over bottom crust to seal, and crimp as desired. Cut steam vents in top crust. Freeze entire pie for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 415 degrees Fahrenheit with rack in lowest position. Brush pie with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar (if desired). Place a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on floor of oven to catch any drips.
  5. Bake pie on lowest rack for 15 minutes at 415 F. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until well browned, for an additional 45 minutes. After total bake time of one hour: Tent pie with foil and continue to bake until bubbling through vents, about 20 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack, at least 4-6 hours. Pie can be made 1 day ahead and stored at room temperature.

    Bring the Fall In!

    Bring the Fall In!

    FALL is here and it is absolutely gorgeous outside! The vibrantly colored leaves, the deliciously warm sun and the crisp smell in the air all combine to create the perfect fall experience. But, alas, we can't always spend autumn afternoons barefoot in the sun-warmed grass enjoying the sights and smells of the season. The next best thing? Bring the fall indoors. Here are some of our favorite ways to do just that. 

    Scents

    Have you ever wondered why certain smells bring back specific memories or recall certain emotions? The cell receptors in our nose are actually linked to an area in our brain that controls emotion and long-term memory. Smells can become a powerful part of our memory. And, pleasant smells can help create a positive energy and mood in our space. Reed diffusers, candles and wax melts are all lovely ways to bring the scents of fall in to your home or office. Crisp apple, pumpkin, spicy orange and vanilla are some of our favorites. Of course we love the Frasier Fir scent from Thymes - SO yummy! We sell a variety of options - come and check them out! 

    Décor

    Pillow covers, festive garlands, seasonal dishes, seasonal gourds and unique decorations can create a festive and inviting space for visitors, but more importantly for you! A fully stocked firewood rack next to the fireplace and warm, soft throws provide comfort on those cooler evenings. Home décor actually plays a really important part in your psychological well being. "Where we are and what surrounds us contributes to our moods, emotions and even our daily behaviors." (www.decoraid.com.) Our shop is stocked with all things fall!

    Lighting

    With shorter days and stormy weather, lighting becomes an even more important consideration this time of year. Consider an extra table lamp, candles or even a strand of twinkle lights. Lighting can have a huge impact on your mood and your state of mind. 

     Enjoy this gorgeous season and come and visit us for not only unique wardrobe items, but also for items to create a beautiful, seasonal home. 

     

     

     

     

    Italian Stuffed Peppers

    Italian Stuffed Peppers

    Warm and comforting just in time for the cooler weather! These stuffed peppers are a one stop meal with veggies, meat, and rice (feel free to leave out meat for vegetarian).
    Made with Amore,
    💗Elena
    Ingredients:
    • 4 bell peppers (I prefer a mix of colors or just red)
    • 1 pound ground beef (use 90% lean, or ground turkey)
    • 1 onion (yellow or red)
    • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1 quart marinara sauce (homemade or your favorite store brand)
    • 1 cup cooked long-grain rice (or use brown rice or quinoa)
    • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano
    • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 8 fresh basil leaves
    Instructions
    1 Fill a 6-quart pot 2/3 full with hot water. Place over high heat on the stove and cover.
    2 Rinse your peppers and pat them dry. Cut out the stems and slice each pepper in half. Scrape out the seeds and membranes and discard them.
    3. When your water is boiling, carefully place the pepper halves in the pot. Boil the peppers for three minutes.
    4. Carefully drain the peppers in a colander in the sink. Use tongs to turn the peppers so the cut sides face down, allowing the water to drain out of them. Let them sit in the colander as you make your meat filling.
    5. Peel your onion and chop it. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grate your Pecorino and shred your mozzarella, if needed.
    6. Add your ground beef to a 12-inch skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon. After a minute, stir in the chopped onions, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is browned and the onions are tender. If your meat is lean enough (90%) you shouldn't have to drain any fat. If you have lots of liquid, drain most of it.
    7. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of marinara sauce to the meat mixture. Stir in the rice (if it was frozen, thaw it in the microwave first.) Add the Pecorino Romano and stir to combine. Cook the mixture for a couple minutes, or until it's heated through.
    8. Prepare a half sheet pan or a 10x15 baking pan for the peppers. If using a sheet pan, line it with foil and grease it with cooking spray. If using a 10x15 pan, just grease it with spray.
    9. Add your drained pepper halves to your baking pan, cut side up. Scoop about three tablespoons of the meat filling into each pepper half. Add more meat as needed, until each pepper half is filled to the surface. Scatter any extra meat filling around the peppers in your pan.
    10. Sprinkle each pepper half with two tablespoons of shredded mozzarella. Gently pat the cheese onto the peppers.
    11. Bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Then, broil the peppers for two minutes to brown the cheese, if desired.
    12. While the peppers are baking, gently rinse your basil leaves and pat them dry. Stack a few leaves, roll them up, and slice them into ribbons. When the stuffed peppers are done, sprinkle the basil on top and serve with extra marinara sauce.
    Refrigerate leftovers for up to four days!
    *Recipe Adapted from Mama C.